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Brains of multilingual kids age slowly


JERUSALEM: A fascinating study has suggested that children who speak more than one language may protect the brain against the effects of aging.

The study published in the journal Psychology and Aging found that kids who speak a second or third language may have an unexpected advantage over monolingual later in life. Knowing and speaking many languages may protect the brain against the effects of aging, suggested the research at the Tel Aviv University.

The team of researchers led by Dr Gitit Kav, a clinical neuro-psychologist from the Herczeg Institute on Aging at Tel Aviv University, discovered that senior citizens who speak more languages test for better cognitive functioning.

The research, which surveyed people between the ages of 75 and 95 and compared bilingual speakers to tri-and multilingual speakers, found that the more languages a person spoke, the better his or her cognitive state was, the ScienceDaily online reported.

A person who speaks more languages is likely to be more clear-minded at an older age, Kav says, in effect exercising his or her brain more than those who are monolingual. However, she advised caution, saying: There is no sure-fire recipe for avoiding the pitfalls of mental aging. But using a second or third language may help prolong the good years.

While the controversy continues as to whether or not parents should introduce their young children to a second language, Kav thinks that learning a new language is only a good thing, even if it isn’t intended to stave off mental decline in old age.


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